How does the Ion-X Glass hold up after time?

Gibson88

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 25, 2006
916
72
United Kingdom
I’m thinking about getting a Series 4 Apple watch but I’m concerned about scratching the glass. If I do get one it will just be the basic model as I can’t justify the price difference for the SS model.

I personally view the watch as jewellery and I don’t want to slap a screen protector, case etc on it as it’ll spoil the look of it.

So people who have owned a watch for a year or so, how is the glass holding up? Do you have any big marks on? Are they covered in micro scratches? Have you babied it?

Pictures would be appreciated.
 

mdhaus72

macrumors newbie
Dec 29, 2018
23
18
I had a Series 2 aluminum in Space Gray and I just recently upgraded to a Series 4 Space Black Stainless Steel.

The screen on the aluminum watch is the same material that they use for iPhone glass. That's not a bad choice.....But the problem I found is that the watch by its very nature is just going to be way more exposed then the typical iPhone.

iPhones don't usually get waved around or held in a position where they are coming around a door frame or corner or dragging against something. But a watch is - pretty much daily. I babied my Series 2 a lot and when I retired it recently, I did have a pretty decent scratch in the upper left and a very tiny one at the bottom. I was always very conscious of where the watch is.....But things happen and sometimes you just can't control it.

That was why I went with the stainless steel case this time. I also don't update my device every year, though, so that also made the decision a bit easier for me.
 
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sean000

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2015
1,602
1,962
Bellingham, WA
My 3 year old S0 alumninum sport still looks new despite some hard knocks over the years. I just got an S4 aluminum. That said it’s the only product I have bought AppleCare+ for. Like you I don’t want to put a screen protector on.
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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33,528
I’m thinking about getting a Series 4 Apple watch but I’m concerned about scratching the glass. If I do get one it will just be the basic model as I can’t justify the price difference for the SS model.

I personally view the watch as jewellery and I don’t want to slap a screen protector, case etc on it as it’ll spoil the look of it.

So people who have owned a watch for a year or so, how is the glass holding up? Do you have any big marks on? Are they covered in micro scratches? Have you babied it?

Pictures would be appreciated.
The Ion-X Glass is a very similar material compared to the iPhone displays, which is durable enough for everyday usage. If you’re concerned about future scratches, then definitely consider a screen protector, and if applied correctly, you should not even be able to tell it’s on the display.
 
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Nell

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2012
563
249
London
My S0 sport watch has a small scratch on the glass but it’s honestly not that noticeable in day to day use (if I actively look for it, I see it; if I look st the watch to see the time or read a notification or whatever, I don’t see it). I haven’t babied the watch at all: it’s a watch; I’m pretty clumsy.

I do now have a SS S3 and I have to say, I think I prefer the glass on the aluminium one; for some reason the S3 screen always looks a bit greasy.
 
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christarp

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2013
455
500
I have a series 2 that's probably around 2 years old, here's how mine has held up.

https://i.imgur.com/PzWNLPm.jpg

It's got a scuff on the corner after smacking it on a granite counter top edge, and then some very very light scratches around the edges, as well as three vertical scratches I got from wearing it and scratching it against the side of a pool. All in all, the only marks you can actually see without being in direct light and catching the angle perfectly is the one in the corner from the granite counter top, but that's not really in the screen area so it doesn't really bother me much.
 
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SDColorado

macrumors 601
Nov 6, 2011
4,278
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Highlands Ranch, CO
My 3 year old S0 alumninum sport still looks new despite some hard knocks over the years. I just got an S4 aluminum. That said it’s the only product I have bought AppleCare+ for. Like you I don’t want to put a screen protector on.
Mine does as well. I just updated to the S4, but my S0 Sport still looks great :)
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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Don’t listen to the people on MacRumors. Go to eBay or Swappa and look at the used aluminum watches for sale. After a year or two, 25% look great, 50% are scuffed up, and another 25% look beat to hell.
You mean, the same ‘tech orientated’ members on a forum who actually list their direct experience with a product, make recommendations and overall actually _don’t_ treat all their products based off what you see on eBay/Swappa? Got it.
 
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KarimLeVallois

macrumors 68020
Feb 22, 2014
2,191
1,353
London
You mean, the same ‘tech orientated’ members on a forum who actually list their direct experience with a product, make recommendations and overall actually _don’t_ treat all their products based off what you see on eBay/Swappa? Got it.
I agree, why be part of a community/forum if you take opinions with a grain of salt?!
 
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SDColorado

macrumors 601
Nov 6, 2011
4,278
4,243
Highlands Ranch, CO
You mean, the same ‘tech orientated’ members on a forum who actually list their direct experience with a product, make recommendations and overall actually _don’t_ treat all their products based off what you see on eBay/Swappa? Got it.
I agree as well. All that statistic tells me, if true, is that people who scuff or beat their watches to hell, attempt to sell them on eBay or Swappa.

What percentage of Watch owners that even represents, what percentage of Watch owners still have theirs because they are holding up well, may have sold them by other means, may have given them away, who knows.

My wife and I both have S0 Sport watches that we upgraded from recently. So all I know for sure is that ours have held up well,

Edit: also what percentage of those with scuffs or had been best to hell had been used in combination with Milanese Loop?

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/black-milanese-loop-ate-my-screen.2164385/
 
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GreyOS

macrumors 68040
Apr 12, 2012
3,277
1,606
Anyone know if the glass has improved at all over the years? Interested in whether it might be fair to say that looking at how, for example, an S0 has faired over the years won’t necessarily be a good indication of how an S4 will fair, if the S4 glass is tougher?
 
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Starship67

Suspended
Oct 28, 2017
958
1,335
LA
Been wearing my Alum. Almost exclusively coming up on 3 months now and not a scratch or mark of any kind.
 
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willentrekin

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2013
235
167
US
Series 3 Space Grey Sport here. Everyday wear for several months now, including to sleep. Not a mark on it.

Worth noting that, as I've seen, the Ion-X screens might be more durable. Sapphire might be harder, but as I understand it that makes it less flexible, so it may crack more easily. Again, just as I've understood and watched several drop test videos. But yeah, no scratches at all here. I had a S2SS previously, that I bought second-hand and which had a hairline crack in it (it took me several weeks to notice, so that tells you just how hairline that crack was).

The aluminum is also lighter, which means the haptic vibrations are more noticeable, if that's at all a factor for you. Given that my primary use of my watch is as an alarm clock and notifications, it was for me. YMMV
 
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techno-Zen

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2015
973
809
Gilbert, AZ
As a new Aluminum model user I have a tiny scratch near the corner. No clue how it even happened. But at this point I can't really justify the resale value drop on the SS models of the Apple Watch. I will keep this one and get a SS model S4 for like $350 in a few months.
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
32,725
33,528
As a new Aluminum model user I have a tiny scratch near the corner. No clue how it even happened. But at this point I can't really justify the resale value drop on the SS models of the Apple Watch. I will keep this one and get a SS model S4 for like $350 in a few months.
Being you just purchased this watch I believe, if it’s a really fine scratch on the display, it should wear off as the coating wears off with usage, if it’s mainly a superficial scratch, but it depends how deep it is.
 
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yui4

macrumors 6502a
May 26, 2011
855
546
I know many don’t approve but if i have anything but the sapphire display, I use a screen protector. I’m too uptight about scratches, although I know if you’re keeping a watch for 2 years, it’s inevitable it’ll pick up some scratch or mark, even if it’s fine.

Whitestone dome have a glass one for the s4 now I believe and it’s supposed to be good.
 
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techno-Zen

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2015
973
809
Gilbert, AZ
Already over the scratch. It just sucks at first..

I wish Apple made the Nike+ version with a light aluminum body but Sapphire glass screen. There's a hell lot of steel repeatedly passing the screen at the gym. I'd easily pay a $25-50 markup on the Nike if that were the case.
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
32,725
33,528
Already over the scratch. It just sucks at first..

I wish Apple made the Nike+ version with a light aluminum body but Sapphire glass screen. There's a hell lot of steel repeatedly passing the screen at the gym. I'd easily pay a $25-50 markup on the Nike if that were the case.
I really would like to see Apple improve the quality of the ion-X display. It’s fairly durable, as it’s comparable to the iPhone displays, but the sport displays seem to scratch easier. Maybe if they improved the Oleophobic coating, which really is intended against fingerprints, but if they added a sapphire display to the sport model, it would only add to the cost, but I think most don’t have a problem with the sport model, just some of us (Including me) are more particular about their products.
 
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techno-Zen

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2015
973
809
Gilbert, AZ
I really would like to see Apple improve the quality of the ion-X display. It’s fairly durable, as it’s comparable to the iPhone displays, but the sport displays seem to scratch easier. Maybe if they improved the Oleophobic coating, which really is intended against fingerprints, but if they added a sapphire display to the sport model, it would only add to the cost, but I think most don’t have a problem with the sport model, just some of us (Including me) are more particular about their products.
That’s why I think the Nike model would be perfect for a higher/mid cost version w/ sapphire. Make it happy Timmy Cook!
 
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Chopper read

macrumors member
Aug 22, 2014
51
22
Had mine since October and noticed a small scratch that I can only see in certain light. It bothered me for about a day. Now the honeymoon period is over and I feel I can enjoy it more. Still looks mega. At least I won’t feel the need to wear jumpers in summer now to keep it covered. :D
 
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nepatriot

macrumors member
Dec 30, 2018
47
27
Often comes down to luck. Or just the way something might strike the watch that one time.

So while plenty of examples from users never having issues with the glass, there seem to be more who experienced the opposite. There are quite a few who report issues with the sapphire too.

Sapphire is harder than glass, so less likely to scratch. But it can scratch. Maybe the first time you wear it, and never again. Or the day you go to trade it in or sell it, after you've owned it 2 years w/o issue.

More likely to show wear on either version is the external glare coating.

Unfortunately, Apple is forcing customers to get the cellular version if they want SS and sapphire. An ALU cellular is $100 more than the GPS ALU; sapphire and SS adds another $230. While you can't compare the tech cost in the AW display with sapphire to a traditional watch cost, it's impossible to get the feeling Apple is screwing it's customers here.

On a traditional watch, even a gas diver, which has the thickest sapphire, a new sapphire crystal can cost as little a $30 retail as a part (not installed). The amount of SS in a traditional mens watch, w/o bracelet, is at least several factors the amount of SS in an AW. I'd be fall-on-the-floor stunned if the total upgrade to SS and sapphire on an AW costs anywhere near $100 including all the SG&A applied.

It sounds like this Apple heavy handed, "take it or take", "because I can" mind set is leaving many customers with a bad taste, a feeling of being taken advantage of, on the AW SS. As long as we keep buying, the will keep doing that. Eventually they will not be able to: China has all Apples's tech, all the mfg capacity, so could start making identical clones tomorrow. And the Samsung is right on their heels.

I bought the SS version for the reduced probability for scratches. But it's not scratch proof, so I will treat it like my mechanicals: with care.
 
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VinOrdinaire

macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2017
17
10
Canada
I've had a space grey S3 aluminum with cellular for about 14 months and do not use a screen protector. As a matter of personal taste I don't like screen protectors, and I accept that the watch face will gradually pick up a few dings from everyday use. The watch has been through a kitchen reno, lots of yard work, and regularly knocks into door frames and metal mail box flaps, among other things. Under a high-intensity desklamp I can see quite a few very fine scratches, which is not too surprising.

However, it's hard to notice these microscratches in normal use, when the screen face is either jet black (when off) or brightly lit by that amazing OLED screen. Your mileage may vary. I'm not saying that the scratches aren't there; I'm just saying some people are more sensitive to them than others.

Lots of people like to protect their iPhone in a case with a screen protector and may want a watch with a sapphire face or a screen protector, just for peace of mind. But there's a different group of people who would be happy to buy a second-hand Apple watch with a fine filigree of tiny scratches that don't show unless you're holding it under the lights in a jewelry store.
 
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tl01

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2010
2,320
623
Maybe the sapphire looks a little better longer but I haven’t had a big issues with my aluminum watches. The SS goes down in value much more quickly.... so it doesn’t seem to justify the initial price to me.
 
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newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
7,733
2,619
East of Eden
I’m thinking about getting a Series 4 Apple watch but I’m concerned about scratching the glass. If I do get one it will just be the basic model as I can’t justify the price difference for the SS model.

I personally view the watch as jewellery and I don’t want to slap a screen protector, case etc on it as it’ll spoil the look of it.

So people who have owned a watch for a year or so, how is the glass holding up? Do you have any big marks on? Are they covered in micro scratches? Have you babied it?

Pictures would be appreciated.
My wife and I had S3 Nike+ watches for a year - zero scratches when we turned them in. So far, three or four months into the S4, no scratches. They're not babied at all. FWIW, I tried one of the SS watches for a week. The sapphire display is a lot more reflective than the ion glass, and I wasn't a fan. Apple should AR coat the sapphire layer.
 
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